How to Be More Efficient? Handle Things the Least Amount of Times Possible.

Most leaders and executives are open to learning how to be more efficient. Often it's a lot of little things (like these 52 Solutions) that will make the difference. Let's focus here on handling things the least amount of times possible. 

No matter what comes to your attention, endeavor to handle it only once. Don’t let things shuffle from pile to pile. Don’t let to-dos shuffle from day to day.

Notice as you go through your day how often you deal with the same piece of mail, shuffle the same document lower on the inbox pile or move a piece of equipment or materials out of the way. Create a new habit of ‘once only’, and make that a habit among all of your staff.

Some things take two touches. Group all the bills for processing at a time when it is most efficient for you to do so. Reroute documents that need input from another person. The point – minimize the number of times you have to touch something. Handle it now, once and decisively.

"Multitasking is rampant. For better or worse, we're rewiring our brains for what the technology industry now calls “continuous partial attention.”

Lucy Jo Palladino, Find Your Focus Zone

Five Days of Coaching on How to Be More Efficient



Take some time today to think about how well you “handle it now, once and decisively.” Do things pass through your hands once? Do responsibilities get shuffled from one day to the next? What sorts of things are you good at touching only once? What needs attention?

The Coach asks:

  • You know the saying, "Touch it once." What percentage of your time do you think you get a task, no matter how small it is, done at one "touch?" Or do you do a bit, then go off to something else, return to it and proceed that way? 
  • What sorts of things are you good at touching only once, bringing them to completion in that one period of time? 
  • What sorts of things do you allow to be easily interrupted? When does this occur? What contributes to it happening? 
  • What do you need to start paying attention to?


For the whole day practice 'touch it once' on messages, email, mail, documents, conversations, physical tasks, and meeting items. Be disciplined for the entire day and notice the result.

The Coach asks:

  • Practice "touch it once" for a whole day. How did you do? What did you notice about yourself? Your discipline? The kinds of things that pulled you off completion? 
  • If you could do this for a whole day, how practical is it to think you could make it a personal habit from here on?
  • If you really want to learn how to be more efficient, how willing are you finding yourself to do what it takes? 
  • What attitude adjustment might need to be made to make this practice a habit? 


Have a “handle it now, once and decisively” staff day for senior leadership. See what happens and what people have to report after the day is over.

The Coach asks:

  • Try a "handle it now, once and decisively" day for senior staff. This will rattle a few nerves. After the initial period of utter confusion (if it happens) how did the practice settle down and progress? 
  • Debrief. What did these professionals notice?
  • What did you notice about them? How long do you think it might take to make some substantial gain on incorporating this practice as a habit of the entire team? 
  • Don't give up if the result wasn't as you might have hoped. Being distracted or pulled away is a tough one to break. What's next? 


Take the bottom two inches of your inbox papers and throw them in the trash can or shred them. If that two inches has sat there for much time, you probably don't need it. If this stresses you, get cracking and get the work taken care of.

The Coach asks:

  • Maybe you don't have a paper inbox. What's your equivalent? Either way dig in and get rid of that bottom two inches. Feel the anxiety? 
  • How come it's stressful now but hasn't seemed to move you toward completion up to this point? 
  • What are you going to do about this? 
  • When will you start?


Resolve to live a very different life, a “handle it once and handle it decisively” life. Think about what that will mean and what adjustments you may need to make. Make them.

The Coach asks: 

  • Take note of those types of things and times to which you cannot apply this practice. Example: A document that requires input from several sources. A project that needs to get started but is waiting for supplies from elsewhere. 
  • How can turning this practice into a daily habit give you an advantage? 
  • How has your thinking about and carrying out this practice gone? What adjustments to you need to make? What do you need to do more of? Less of? 
  • How do you like being more efficient? 

Spiritual Reflection for Christian Leaders


As a Christian Executive Leadership Coach I encourage Christian leaders to reflect on God's Word to add to their wisdom.

  • Mt 6:24  No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. 
  • Php 4:13  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
  • Is 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. 
  • Ecc  9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might ..

If you are a leader, executive, or senior level professional looking to work with a Christian Executive Coach, I invite you to connect with me here.

If appropriate, we can meet by phone or Zoom to discuss your situation.

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


We all know that it's so easy to get attention pulled off the task at hand and on to something else. Seriously, this is a time waster. It does not contribute to having an efficient day. You have to be intentional about dealing with this.

When it comes to how to be more efficient, the habits, the solutions, like this one, are not complicated to understand. It's having the willpower to follow through, doing what it takes until you get the benefit.

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